Australian Lender Names New Chair After Years of Tumult


Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender, said Paul O’Malley, who joined the bank’s board in 2019 and served as the chief executive and managing director of BlueScope Steel for a decade, would be its new chair.

He replaces Catherine Livingstone, who would retire in August after more than five years in the role.

Livingstone oversaw the bank’s operations during a tumultuous period in which a government-backed inquiry uncovered widespread misconduct in the financial services industry and the Covid-19 pandemic hammered companies across the globe.

The scandals included an investigation by Australia’s money laundering regulator that led to the resignation of chief executive Ian Narev and a fine of A$700 million, and a 2018 inquiry into the banking sector that found numerous incidents of wrongdoing.

Livingstone remained unscathed by the scandals, and oversaw a board and management overhaul, including the well-received appointment of Matt Comyn as chief executive in 2018.

CBA’s share price has risen to a level 25% higher than when Livingstone became chairman.

Before taking the role at CBA, she had served as the chairperson of Australia’s biggest telecom firm Telstra and the top boss of hearing device maker Cochlear.

O’Malley will take over as chairman on August 10, at a time when central banks globally are planning on raising interest rates to tame unruly inflation.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell





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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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